Snow Drought Not a Concern For Local Water Supply

Oak Hill, WV (WOAY-TV): You probably have noticed less white on the ground this year and you’re not alone. The data shows we are already in the record books for a snowless winter. As Meteorologist Chad Merrill reports, it’s not cause for alarm just yet.

It doesn’t take a meteorologist to tell you snow has been scarce this winter. For Beckley, this is the least snowiest winter on record since the 1963-64 winter with only 8.2 inches of snow through February 3. In Bluefield, it has been the eighth least snowiest winter with 6.6 inches of accumulation.

Despite the lackluster winter so far, National Weather Service Meteorologist in Charleston, W.Va., Ray Young, says we have no worries for water shortages in southern West Virginia. “No, we’ve been getting plenty of rain, so the streams and creeks and water table are running normal for this time of the year.”

Since November 1, Beckley is only 1.2 inches behind average on precipitation (mostly rain) while Bluefield is in a surplus by 2.07 inches.

Young cautioned a significant snow pack going into the spring can cause problems. “The snow pack can be detrimental because if we get a large amount of rain on the snow-pack during the spring, there is upside risk for significant spring flooding.”

A good example of that is the Blizzard of ’96 when we had heavy snow followed by rain two weeks later, correct? Young said, “Yes, that is the perfect example. We had 4 inches of water in the snow pack in Marlinton and then an inch of water on top of the snow pack. While our area can handle an inch of rain, when it falls on a four-inch water equivalent snow pack, flooding quickly resulted.”

Late February into March is still fair game for a big snow, so we’re not out of the woods yet, but we won’t be able to fully recover from our snow drought before spring arrives for good.

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